The NPT Review Conference IV: Reaffirming the basic disarmament agenda

A basic disarmament agenda has been in place for the past decade. The priorities set in the 1990s and even earlier were essentially confirmed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

The final document[i] of the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) reaffirmed the key decisions and agreements reached at the critically important Review Conferences of 1995 and 2000. In particular it “reaffirms the continued validity of the practical steps agreed to…in 2000” (para 5) – practical steps which were then supported then by the Bill Clinton administration of the US, and later repudiated by the George W. Bush administration.

The Action Plan adopted in 2010 reflects the earlier agreements, but gives them added urgency by expressions of “deep concern at the continued risk for humanity represented by the possibility that these weapons could be used and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of nuclear weapons” (para 81). In that context the 2010 agreement also draws attention to the 1996 World Court opinion on nuclear use (para 89) and “reaffirms the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including with international humanitarian law” (AP, Section 1.A. Principles and Objectives, para v).

In reaffirming the 1995 and 2000 actions, the 2010 review and action plan (AP) of 22 specific disarmament actions endorse the overall nuclear disarmament agenda contained in those decisions. In the chapeau paragraph for the section reaffirming the practical steps of the 2000 Review Conference, “the nuclear-weapon States commit to accelerate concrete progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament” (AP5).

The nuclear weapon states reaffirmed their commitment to an “unequivocal undertaking” to “accomplish the elimination of their arsenals” (para 80; AP, Section I.A.ii), and promised that in the course of implementing that undertaking they would also pursue “further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons, deployed and non-deployed, including through unilateral, bilateral, regional, and multilateral measures” (AP3).

They accepted the call to further diminish the role of nuclear weapons in their security policies, to develop measures to prevent their use and reduce the risk of accidental use, and to increase transparency (AP5). Notably, the nuclear weapon states “are called upon to report the above undertakings to the Preparatory Committee at 2014” (AP5).

The action plan has states resolving to “achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, in accordance with the objectives of the Treaty” (AP, Section I.A.i) and highlights a number of specific policies: entry into force of the comprehensive test ban treaty (paras84-86, AP10-14); the negotiation of a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for weapons purposes; and the declaration by nuclear weapon states of surplus fissile materials to be brought under IAEA safeguards (AP15-18). They reiterated commitments to honor negative security assurances (AP7-8), and promote nuclear weapon free zones (AP9). The importance of universality was repeated, calling on India, Israel, and Pakistan to join the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states (para 115). The 2010 final document deplores the North Korea’s weapons tests (AP, Other regional issue, 1).

Overall, the 2010 Review Conference reinforces a collective commitment to zero nuclear weapons. That basic sentiment is backed up with references to a nuclear weapons convention (June 16 post).

eregehr@ploughshares.ca

Notes

[i] The final document as approved (NPT/Conf.2010/L.2) is available from Reaching Critical Will at:http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/legal/npt/revcon2010/DraftFinalDocument.pdf.

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